Google to Resume `Street View' Imaging After Removing Wi-Fi Scanning Gear

Google Inc., the world’s largest Web- search provider, is poised to resume dispatching cars in four markets to collect imagery for its Street View mapping service after it removed gear that scanned private information.

Street View driving will restart in Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Sweden next week, with its fleet of cars no longer collecting Wi-Fi information, Google said on its European Public Policy blog. More countries will be added in time, it said. Google began driving in San Francisco recently, said Jessica Powell, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman.

Google is being investigated in Europe and the U.S. after the company said in May that it had mistakenly gathered wireless Internet data while photographing residential streets worldwide. The Internet-search provider today apologized to its Australian users and agreed to assess the impact on privacy resulting from its collection of information.

“They had a hiccup over the wireless data, and I would say that’s blown over for the time being,” Sam Hart, a media analyst at Charles Stanley in London, said by phone. “I think it was more of a one-off than anything that will really impact them over the longer term.”

Google, whose Street View service allow users to click on maps to see 360-degree views of roads, is entangled in regulatory disputes in several countries related to online searches, advertising and maps. The Mountain View, California- based company said June 4 it will provide French, German and Spanish authorities with data that was inadvertently collected from wireless networks.

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Google wants more time before resuming Street View driving in countries where the company is subject to ongoing investigations and outstanding questions that still need answering, Powell said in an e-mail.

“We decided to start driving in countries where we have largely resolved our regulatory issues,” she said.

Google has agreed to consult Australia’s privacy regulator about any “significant” new products in the country during the next three years, Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis said on her office’s website today. Curtis said she was “satisfied that any collection of personal information would have breached” the nation’s privacy laws.

The commissioner said the existing law constrained her from imposing any sanction in such cases and added the regulator supports government plans to adopt tougher rules for breaches of privacy.

“This was a mistake for which we are sincerely sorry,” Google said on its Australian blog. “Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do and we have to earn that trust every single day. We are acutely aware that we failed badly.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Fenner in Melbourne rfenner@bloomberg.net

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